Checking the soil pH is a necessary process for many a keen gardener, as it will ensure that you have the best possible conditions for the plants that you are trying to grow. There are a number of kits available on the market to help in this regard, however, it is also possible to make a testing kit at home. The tools and steps below will guide you through making a kit that will accurately measure the pH balance of your soil.
Step 1 - Gather Equipment
The first step necessary to make your own soil pH testing kit is to gather all the equipment needed for the process. A ready-made kit will be the best way to get a precise result, but a homemade kit can still tell you what you need to know.
Determining the pH will aid the landscaping process as it will give you a good idea of the type of plants to sow. You will need at least two glass jars so that you can see inside them. You will also need a separate container to mix components together and a trowel to enable you to gather a sufficient quantity of soil.
Step 2 - Collect Soil
To check the soil pH, you will need to gather a sufficient quantity of soil for testing. Dig up small amounts of soil from three locations around the yard. Half a trowel full from the topsoil around 4 inches deep should provide a good sample. Mix all the soil together and gather 2 tablespoons to deposit it into one of the jars. Do the same with the second jar, making sure that the quantity of soil is relatively similar.
Step 3 - Test Alkaline Levels
One of the jars can be used to test whether the soil pH is alkaline, which can be undertaken with white vinegar. Start by adding water to the soil so that it is moist. Avoid letting it become waterlogged by adding the water in drops. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to the soil and watch to see if any fizzing occurs. If it does, the soil is more alkaline, if not, is it likely to be acidic. The soil can be treated with compost to rectify this problem.
Step 4 - Test Acidity
To check whether the soil pH is more acidic, the jar must be treated the same as previously in that the soil must be moist. In a separate container, create a solution by mixing 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 2 tablespoons of water. Stir it thoroughly to ensure it has no lumps. Pour this solution over the soil and check whether there is any fizzing. If there is no reaction, it is more likely to be alkaline. Lime can be added to the soil to balance the pH.